Understanding Health Insurance

By: Lee Ann Obringer & Melissa Jeffries

Military Health Care and COBRA

There are insurance plans for all those in the military, including veterans and retirees.
There are insurance plans for all those in the military, including veterans and retirees.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

Military Health Care

There are three main types of health care offered to those in the military. The main system for military health care is known as Tricare, which is available to all active military employees and to retired members of the uniformed services along with their families. Tricare offers three basic types of plans including a fee-for-service, a PPO and an HMO. For those retired from the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers additional medical help when necessary. CHAMPVA is one such service that helps veterans pay for the cost of their medical services, as well as the medical costs of their dependents and survivors. The VA is a plan which offers the same services but to veterans only.


So what happens if you have health insurance through your employer but are laid off from your job? Thanks to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), your employer may be required to continue your health coverage for a limited amount of time. Depending on the circumstances, it can be as long as 36 months. The reason for loss or reduction of employment must be a qualifying event, meaning there are specific circumstances that do and don't entitle you to continued coverage. For instance, if you're caught pilfering from the company and get fired, don't expect to continue your health benefits through COBRA.


However, just because they're offering you coverage doesn't mean they're still paying for it. You'll have to pay for it yourself. Because you're still participating in the group plan, however, you'll be paying less than you would for an individual plan. And, if you have an existing health condition, you won't have to go through a waiting period to get coverage for it when you do get another job and new health insurance.

Let's find out more about the different types of health insurance, beginning with indemnity insurance.